Maryam Masud has been drawing and doodling ever since she was a kid. And people are starting to take notice, thanks to her most recent series, Colors of Islam, which imagines Disney characters wearing the hijab. A sort of surprising project, considering her Bangladeshi parents didn't want her watching too much Disney growing up.
“[Disney movies] have a lot of messages that are subtle and are not exactly how people should be portrayed,” Masud says. “It's not like [my parents] stopped us from watching it if we wanted to, it was that they didn't necessarily encourage it.” This led Masud to other forms of entertainment such as Japanese anime.
As she learned about cosplay culture, Masud saw a lack of characters she could easily dress as. Many characters were white males, or women with a specific style of dress or physique. Colors of Islam is her attempt at remedying that exclusion by opening up the world of Disney.
Masud knows her characters extremely well. She can discuss them or the merits of Tangled versus Frozen at length. “People forget that Rapunzel is an astronomer. She's a fashion designer, a cook and a baker… She's a scholar.”